Why is there a £17k to £19k discrepancy in allowances and expenses for councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority?
There’s a discrepancy I’ve spotted. In the papers for the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority Policy and Resources Committee that meets on the 17th September 2015. There is a note in the Statement of Accounts (note 29) on page 59. It’s short so I’ll quote it below as it’s mainly information in a table.
29. Members’ Allowances
The Authority comprises of 18 councillors from the 5 districts of Merseyside. The total allowances paid to members within the year were:
As you can see from the table above, for 2014/15 the total allowances paid to councillors is £225,000 and the total expenses for 2014/15 to councillors £14,000. The total for these two figures is £239,000.
On June 11th the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority met, agenda item 9 was Members Allowance Payments 2014/15. This agenda item contained a table detailing payments to councillors for 2014/15.
The total allowances detailed in that table for 2014/15 are £143,242.50 + £16,140 + £24,210.00 + £1.345.00 + £8,070.00 + £11,939.57 + £6,053.04 + £2,690.33 = £213,690.44
However £213,690.44 does not equal £225,000!
The difference is £11,309.56 +-£500!
The total expenses detailed in that table are £1,338.45 + £4,175.84 + £2,194.05 = £7,708.34
Again £7,708.34 does not equal £14,000.
This difference is £6,291.66 +-£500!
The two differences add up to a grand total of £17,601.22 +-£1000.
As the figures in the statement of accounts are rounded to the nearest £1000, this could be any figure between £16,601.22 and £18,601.20.
On the expenses side I can make an educated guess that the expenses paid directly by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority that are detailed on the 49 pages of expenses here for councillors weren’t in June being properly coded. Page 2 of a letter from Janet Henshaw states that this amount estimated at between £5,700 and £6,700 wasn’t being coded to each councillor as it would require going through approximately 12 monthly invoices and coding expenditure to 18 councillors (which is classed as a “wholly unreasonable use of scarce resources”).
I’ve totted up amounts in the first twenty-four pages and they total £3,068.04. Assuming the other pages are for broadly similar amounts that would make the total in the ballpark figure of £6,136.08 (which is within the range of £6,291.66 +-£500).
However I’m still at a loss as to why there’s a ~£11,309.56+-£500 difference on allowances for 2014/15!
Perhaps I should ask the auditor Grant Thornton what’s going on and also raise it with the councillors and officers?
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